Announcing Maria Cancian, Ph.D., as Dean of the McCourt School of Public Policy

Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community:

It is with great pleasure that I write today to share that Maria Cancian, Ph.D., has been named Dean of the McCourt School of Public Policy.  She will begin in this position on February 1, 2019.

Dr. Cancian is an extraordinary scholar who is highly regarded for her academic expertise and visionary leadership.  Since 1993, she has been a member of the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and she currently serves as a professor in the La Follette School of Public Affairs and School of Social Work, focusing much of her research on the relationship between public policies and changes in society, including marriage, employment, and family well-being.  Throughout her time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she has taught numerous courses and published extensively on a variety of topics, including poverty, foster care, and the economy.  She has also held a number of leadership positions throughout the University of Wisconsin-Madison, including Associate Dean for Fiscal Initiatives and Associate Dean for Social Services in the College of Letters and Sciences and Director of the Institute for Research on Poverty.  She also served as a W.T. Grant Foundation Distinguished Fellow in Residence at the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, and a Visiting Fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.

In April 2015, Dr. Cancian joined the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy for the Administration for Children and Families—a position she held until June 2016.  Prior to beginning in this role, she served as a Senior Advisor to the Secretary of HHS and was nominated by President Obama for the role of Assistant Secretary.

Dr. Cancian is also known for her exceptional commitment to service—she is currently a Senior Fellow at Casey Family Programs and Chair of the W.T. Grant Foundation Institutional Challenge Grant Selection Committee.  She has also held leadership positions in the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management and served on a number of committees and boards throughout her career.  Just this past year, she chaired both the University of Wisconsin’s Chief Information Officer Search Committee and their School of Social Work’s Grievance Committee, co-chaired the La Follette School’s Director Search Committee, and served as a member of the La Follette School’s Budget Committee, the School of Social Work’s Part Time Program Oversight Committee and the Institute for Research on Poverty’s Executive Committee.  She was also a co-leader for the Poverty and Family Formation Network and a mentor for women faculty.  In January, she was inducted into the American Academy of Political and Social Science as the 2018 John Kenneth Galbraith Fellow.

Dr. Cancian holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in Economics from the University of Michigan and a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology from Swarthmore College.  

I wish to offer my deepest appreciation to the members of our University search committee—especially Thomas DeLeire, Ph.D., who served as Chair—for their exemplary dedication to Georgetown and for their tireless efforts to bring this extraordinary leader to Georgetown.

I also want to express my sincerest gratitude to Michael Bailey, Ph.D., for his dedicated leadership as Interim Dean of the McCourt School over the course of the past year—he will continue to serve in this capacity until Dr. Cancian joins us in February. 

Please join me in offering Dr. Cancian our warmest welcome to Georgetown.

You have my very best wishes.


John J. DeGioia